Welcome back to another installment of Indie Comics Showcase! All I have to say this week is “support indie comics” as I aim to direct you to some most excellent choices every week! This week is no exception!
Here are three outstanding crowdfunding comics you’re going to want to check out.
Now let’s dive in!
Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter
by Russell Nohelty
By Russell Nohelty
A Lovecraftian dark fantasy horror-comedy inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreamlands and Cthulhu mythos, but set in a Christian Apocalypse.
Please Visit The Campaign Site Here.
John Lemus: Russell, Welcome to and thank you for being a part of Indie Comics Showcase. It’s a delightful pleasure to have you with us today, discussing your Indie Comic, Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter. First let me say congratulations on it now being in development for television. I think that is amazing and is definitely something I’m looking forward to seeing.
Russell Nohelty: thank you so much. It’s a very slow process, but we’re moving it along…I hope. Every time we move forward, it feels like we lurch back, but it is further along now than it was last year.
JL: Before we get started I was hoping you could tell us a little bit about yourself for those who may not be familiar with your body of work.
RN: I’m a USA Today bestselling author who has written over a dozen novels, multiple graphic novels, and raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter across eight projects. My best known solo titles are my Godsverse Chronicles books, which happen across 13,000 years, and span two comics and four novels (of which two will be out next year). The best sellers of that universe are Katrina Hates the Dead and Pixie Dust.
JL: Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter is a project you had initially completed Correct?
RN: Yes, I completed the initial arc with Renzo Podesta in 2012, and it came out through Wannabe Press in 2015, after a successful Kickstarter in 2014. I thought the book was done, but people have been in love with it ever since and have begged me to continue it. It took a while to figure out how that could be possible, but I finally figured it out. It was actually the TV development that helped me crack it, as we need the show to last for five seasons at least, so I had to find a way to get Ichabod out of the predicament he found himself in at the end of the first arc.
Once we figured it out, I continued the book, and it’s live on Kickstarter now!
JL: So Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter is now being developed as a television series! How did that come about?
RN: Well, I live in LA, and I’ve had management since the early days of Wannabe Press, and we’ve been pitching stuff around since then, and finally Ichabod stuck, which was nice, especially after being rejected with it for so many years.
JL: How did you get started in comics?
RN: I originally came to Los Angeles to write movies and television, but that wasn’t going anywhere and my management at the time told me I should look into comics. He handed me a stack of them, and I fell in love with what people were doing with the medium since I stopped reading them in the 90’s. I immediately started working on my first book, and soon after, started work on Ichabod.
JL: What can you tell us about this story? Can you elaborate a bit more on the character and stories’ future, both in issue five and beyond?
RN: Ichabod is about a psychopath that escapes a mental asylum and becomes a monster hunter, but doesn’t know if he’s killing monsters, humans, or it’s all in his head the whole time. I was meant to be a single arc OGN, but fans have been so excited about the book that I decided to bring it back through Kickstarter to try to whip up excitement again to make it a long running series.
I’m committed to finishing this second arc whether the Kickstarter funds or not, but if it doesn’t then I will end it there until such a time as the book breaks even + production costs for the third volume. If it funds, then I will keep it going into the third arc immediately.
The biggest change to the cast in the fifth issue is Necromonica, the wizard of the Apocalypse. She’s our Gandalf, and the story turns into a fantasy tale with her introduction. It was always fantasy, but there were heavy horror elements, while not it’s much more an epic dark fantasy tale, with lots of monsters, and plenty of brutal monster battles.
JL: Can you tell us a little bit about how this project came to be, and explain a bit how the characters and story were conceptualized?
RN: Ichabod started as my big screw you to publishing. I had just been rejected everywhere for my book The Wannabes, about fake superheroes that get real superpowers. I wanted to make something so unusual that people would at least have a reason to reject me.
I remember cresting over the 405 one day on my way to a meeting and the idea of Ichabod came to me. The biggest part of Ichabod is the confusion as to whether he was in the Apocalypse, killing people thinking he was in the Apocalypse, or it was all in his head the whole time.
I wanted Ichabod to feel sympathetic, which is why Renzo took so much inspiration from Johnny the Homicidal maniac and manga. Those big, wet eyes make you love Ichabod immediately, even though you know he’s a stone-cold killer. I think the second arc makes you love Ichabod, not just love him despite his past, but really love him.
JL: What made Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter a story you wanted to tell?
RN: Ichabod was written in the darkest time in my whole life. I was broke, and unemployed, and nobody would hire me. I couldn’t even get meetings with anybody for a script job.
Ichabod was basically me at that point, or at least how I felt. I felt like I would never be successful and was living in my own little padded cell, cut off from the world. My biggest question was, can somebody that society cast off become a hero? Are there redemptive qualities in even the worst humans?
This new arc is a way to look back at my younger self and send a life raft saying “you will not succeed despite what you think is broken about you. You will succeed BECAUSE of what you think is broken about you. I think that’s a message anybody can get behind. It’s a universal truth that everybody feels abandoned and alone, and Ichabod is the hero that says even the worst of us can be a hero if we take control of our own narrative.
JL: What are some of the things that get your creative juices flowing when working on Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter or any of your other projects? Do you read anything, watch any shows, listen to music as you work?
RN: I love reading. I think it’s essential for a writer. Reading is breathing in, and writing is breathing out. If you don’t do both, I don’t know how you can survive as a writer. I spend a lot of time in my own head, thinking and plotting, and then when I can’t stop anymore, I sit down to write.
I am pretty good about writing consistently. I wrote 20 books in 20 months between June of 2017 and February of 2019, along with writing Ichabod, a daily blog, and producing an anthology with 70 collaborators.
When it’s a job, you have to perform. Luckily, I know Ichabod’s world so well it’s relatively easy to write at this point, even if it means going into a darker place than I usually write from.
JL: What are some of the first comics you remember reading?
RN: Death of Superman, the old X-Men with the beefy Rob Liefeld arms, Guy Gardner, and the Marvel/DC stuff. I didn’t get into indie books until much later. But it was comics like Umbrella Academy, Serenity Rose, Y: The Last Man, Preacher, 27, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, and Lenore that had the most lasting impact on me.
JL: What have some of your influences been and how have they affected your work?
RN: I started as a movie guy. When I first got started, my biggest influence was Kevin Smith and Clerks. I couldn’t believe somebody just…did it. He just wanted to be a filmmaker, so he maxed out credit cards and did it. Same thing with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez and Richard Linklater. I started as a movie guy, and watching people who the system had cast off just…do it and make a career was inspiring.
JL: What are your hopes for Ichabod Jones: Monster Hunter?
RN: Well, I have six more arcs of Ichabod planned out. I would like it to go for 28-30 issues, and then I have some plans for after that. I don’t know if it’s going to get there, but I hope it will because I think there’s something interesting I have to say with Ichabod. He’s the kind of hero that I think the world needs now; insecure, but willing to try anyway, even if everything rides against him, because he wants to do good in the world. The world is falling apart around him, but Ichabod still wants to change it for the better.
JL: Let our readers in on your creative process, Russell.
RN: I’m regimented when it comes to my work. Every day I get up at 6am. I respond to emails or do marketing from 6-9. Then, from 9-2 is work time. That’s when I’m writing, or recording or something that moves a project along toward the finish line. Then, from 2-5 I break to do a walk or just collect myself. From 5-7 I respond to emails, and then at 7 my wife gets home and work is basically over for the day.
JL: When we have a creator of your caliber I like to ask if they have any tips or words of encouragement for any of our readers who have hopes of putting out their own indie comics. Anything you can share?
RN: People always make time for the things they are passionate about, and everybody talks a big game. Few people actually do, and then even less do at a high enough level to make an impact. If you want to break through, your work has to be as good or better than everything on the market. Then, once it is, you have to promote the heck out of yourself every chance you get in order to gain any momentum. Ichabod has been out for five years now, and I’m still struggling to gain momentum for it on Kickstarter right now, and then maintain it afterwards.
You have to fight to convince people you are relevant, to keep people entertained, and engaged, but if you can, then you stand a shot. I never thought I would be considered a high caliber creator when I started. I just did the best work I could, and kept doing it even when I thought it was impossible.
Little by little, I gained traction, until here I am today, looking back at my career with a much different light than I looked forward at it with. The main thing is that you have to do the work and show up over and over again. If you put out high caliber work, and then grind to find and audience, and keep them, you will have success in the long run, but you have to keep showing up with new stuff over and over again. Don’t skimp. Go all out. That doesn’t mean spend a million dollars an issue, but it does mean maximizing every dollar to make a book look exceptional.
JL: Anything we haven’t covered you’d like to mention before we sign off?
RN: I run a whole website about growing a successful creative business called The Complete Creative. If you want to learn more about making the best work of your life, and sharing it with the world head over to thecompletecreative.com – but I hope you’ll back the Kickstarter first. Really, I think Ichabod is truly special. I don’t know what I did to get people to love him so much, but he is very much beloved and I am honored that people love him so much. I just hope I don’t screw it up.
JL: Thanks Russell. We wish you the best of luck on the campaign as well as all future projects, and we will be looking forward to the series, and as a collector, any potential action figures and toys.
RN: Thank you so much for having me.
T-BIRD & THROTTLE: BOOK 3 OF 4
by Josh Howard
T-Bird & Throttle is a sci-fi superhero epic 20 years in the making.
Inspired by comics like The Dark Knight Returns and Fantastic Four.
When astronaut Mitchell Maddox discovered a strange alien “engine” on the moon, it transformed him into something more than human. Propelled to the status of “super-hero”, Maddox, calling himself T-BIRD, used his abilities for the good and protection of the people of Centennial City. That is, until the day a terrible tragedy changed everything. T-BIRD & THROTTLE #1 begins 10 years after these events. The story is ultimately about a hero’s fall from grace and his subsequent attempt to rebuild his life and raise a daughter in changing times. You may be familiar with this title since we’ve reviewed the first issue of this 4-issues mini-series, and the series debuted on Indie Comics Showcase nearly a year ago. Our managing editor recently interviewed creator Josh Howard about the latest installment.
Chris Braly: What is the ‘elevator pitch’ for T-Bird & Throttle? Briefly tell our readers what it’s about and give us some background on it.
Josh Howard: Someone described it best as The Incredibles meets The Dark Knight Returns. It’s about a former astronaut turned superhero trying to raise a teenage daughter alone and rebuild his career after a horrific incident involving his powers 10 years prior. But just as he’s starting to get back on his feet, an orchestrated smear campaign attempts to take him down once and for all. But why? And who’s behind it all? That’s the mystery at the heart of the series.
CB: What made you decide to crowdfund these books? Did you try going to any of the major or indie publishers with it before going the truly independent route?
JH: I did, but no one was very receptive. But I expected that going in. I always knew T-BIRD & THROTTLE would be a hard sell, one because it’s about superheroes, and they say indies aren’t supposed to do superheroes. And two, I knew the subject matter would likely be a huge sticking point. It’s basically holding a mirror to outrage culture and identity politics and saying “you people are ridiculous.” It also deals with issues of faith and meaning, which is always a staple of my work. But I’m honestly happy to be doing it myself, the way I want it to do it, without compromise.
CB: We’ve featured your work on this series on our website over the years. And you’ve crowdfunded the other books in this series. What did you learn from those and has it taught you to tweak anything about this campaign?
JH: My previous campaigns have gone really smoothly, thank God. There are so many hidden pitfalls to crowdfunding, but thankfully I’ve managed to avoid most of them so far (knock on wood). I’ve learned that it’s important to stay enthusiastic, engaged, and most importantly, to never give up.
CB: What advice would you share with other indie creators that you’ve learned?
JH: Assuming you have some talent & know the basics of comic storytelling,I would advise everyone to get some experience under your belt before going straight to crowdfunding. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a pro. Just make something first, from start to finish. Assemble it, show it to friends. Sell it through your website. Learn how best to pack & ship your product. You don’t want to learn that on the fly in crowdfunding. Also having some self-awareness about your story and how to present & package it is a big help. Sure, you may care about this character you made up when you were 10, but you need to give everyone else a reason to care too.
CB: Tell me more about the T-Bird & Throttle. What made this the kind of story you wanted to do as a comic and what kind of fans of other comics might enjoy this the most?
JH: It’s a story that’s been gestating for 20 years. It’s gone through many permutations, but the core of it has always been the same – a superhero who is essentially trying to stand strong against the tide of changing times. It’s about getting back to what made superheroes and comic books fun and exiting and inspiring. The character of T-Bird starts at his lowest point and must somehow find a way to rise and find redemption. In an industry littered with superhero deconstruction, this is a superhero reconstruction. So if you love good comics with traditional heroes, or comics that sort of examine the genre and explore what it really means to be a superhero or super villain, I think you’d enjoy T-BIRD & THROTTLE.
CB: Tell us a bit about your creative team and what other creators have contributed to this volume?
JH: I’m the only creator on T-BIRD & THROTTLE! I write, draw, color, letter, design, and pack & ship. So if there’s ever a problem, you know who to blame! 🙂
CB: What else can you share about the project and your creative process? How do you approach this comic… conceived and written first, storyboards, thumbnails, sketches, or just whatever hits you that day and you draw and ink?
JH: This story in particular, I have a wealth of pre-existing material to work with. Years of concept sketches, outlines and abandoned scripts. So I sat down in 2017 and wrote the scripts for all four books first. But I’m only drawing/crowdfunding one book at a time because these are not regular size issues. They run 50-60’pages.
From the script, I make very loose thumbnail sketches to plan the page layouts. I’ll usually only do about 5-10 pages at a time though. Then I’ll fully pencil & ink a page, then on to the next, on and on until the entire book is done. Then I will move on to coloring, and finally lettering.
CB: Any final words for our readers?
JH: I’m really eager to share this story. I’m blessed to say that everyone who has taken a chance on the series so far has given it nothing but praise. If the campaign for Book 3 is successful, I will move on to book 4 likely sometime early next year. Book 4 is the final issue of this story arc, which is essentially the big origin story for the characters. I have many more stories planned for the future, but getting this initial 4 Book arc done is my main priority. I would greatly appreciate everyone’s support!
CB: Thanks for chatting with us Josh! Good luck and we are rooting for you!
JH: Thanks so much!
Check out the Indiegogo page here!
WORLD OF GOLMA: Book 1 Aerah
by Zachary Bradley
Zach Bradley is a husband and father that started World of Golma in 2013 with a handful of talented writers to create an overview of the world. Now, he is creating the first 100 page graphic novel in the series. Based on the story originally written by Cheyenne Martin. Diving deep in to the origins of Aerah, and all the events that led to him becoming immortal. The story is inspired by comics like Thrud the Barbarian, and Saga. Chris interviewed Zachary recently to discuss the project.
Chris Braly: What is the ‘elevator pitch’ for World of Golma? Briefly tell our readers what it’s about and give us some background on it.
Zachary Bradley: A monk, a nomad, and a bum set off to disrupt a mad mans plot for world domination. Call it fate, or just dumb luck, but they may be just what is needed to save the world of Golma. Golma, a world ruled by 12 nations is on the edge of destruction. Draxle, the Emperor of Karnarth has unearthed ancient technology and plans to use it to conquer the other nations. Word of his plan quickly spreads and a shroud of despair consumes the world.
In the gutters of a trading town located deep in the deserts of Berkath, Aerah, a somebody turned nobody bides his time waiting to expire. Along comes a band of misfits, that force him to take action and set on a journey to face his past. Through those trials he rekindles his will to live, and ultimately becomes immortal.
CB: Can you let us in on who or what inspired you to tell this story and how long you’ve been working on this?
ZB: In its origins, World of Golma was a pitch book trying to sell a concept for a game in 2013. I designed 12 characters and hired some writers to detail their backgrounds, but I was always a visual storyteller and these stories were really cool. So I decided to adapt the pitch book into a graphic novel series.
CB: This isn’t your first outing. You’ve worked as an illustrator and in the comics field before. Tell us about your previous work and how you’ve brought your experience to this project.
ZB: I started doing freelance work in 2013, that is also when I started working on the pitch book for World of Golma. During that time I was hired by a company called Koralis Entertainment where I did illustrating, coloring, penciling, inking, and concepting for their comics and properties. I then worked for Konundrum Interactive working on a game called Kaos as an illustrator, concept artist, 3D artist, and texture artist. All the while writing and developing the World of Golma.
CB: What are some similar comics readers may be familiar with that will find World of Golma appealing?
ZB: World of Golma is a balance of humor (and gore) from Thrud the Barbarian and Empowered but the epic overarching story from comics like Tokyo Ghost and Saga.
CB: What advice would you share with other indie creators that you’ve learned from your time in the business?
ZB: Working independently means that your job is 30% creating work and 70% selling yourself. So I would focus on either building an awesome community of people willing to support you, or developing your skills to a point where people want your work.
CB: There’s several samples showing off some strong artwork featured on the campaign page. Tell us a bit about your creative team and what other creators (if any) have contributed to this volume?
ZB: Other than the original stories that I am using as inspiration, all illustration, comic pages, lettering, and writing is done by me. I do have a few editors that I run my work by for quality, but the creative process is as of this moment a one man show.
CB: What else can you share about the project? And do you have any final words for our readers?
ZB: WoG: Aerah is the first book in an epic series of graphic novels that I will be building. I will be doing my best to deliver the best quality art and story and I hope people will enjoy the ride!
CB: Thanks for chatting with us Zachary! Good luck and we are rooting for you!
ZB: Thank you so much for this opportunity to talk about my project Chris Braly and Bleeding Fool!
Check out the campaign for World of Golma here!
CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S FEATURED BOOKS!
That’s it for this installment everyone! Remember, support indie comics!!!
Follow Indie Comics Showcase on Twitter at @Indie_Comics!